Amelia is perplexed still . The conversation of the night before , like a hunger strike , lingered in the pit of her stomach . Why did her sister fall in love many times over … and so easily ? A stone , a leaf , a window … sadness and hope , cruelty and love . The venomous chaos , a penetrating chaos with potent terror was evil . Evil in the form of a man named Martin . A chaos cold and numbing . Tavisha had been swallowed up by the abyss and yet somehow she had crawled out in tack . And this is what I wished to understand . She once quoted , like a black and white tattoo embedded on her skin from Anna Karenina , ” All the variety , all the charm , all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow “. I’ve never forgotten her saying it . And I saw that her shadow , like the shadow of a dead bird growing larger as it falls from the sky , was dark , blood red , a gash deep that still scarred on her neck , deep into her heart. Evil was lurking around the corner and love , like optimism turns up where you least expect it . And in the end that’s all there is, love , sorrow and it’s truth . Some people are born to suffer , it’s the same place where love and freedom and pride are born and it never stops, we just pretend it does . We tell ourselves it does to make the children stop whimpering in their sleep . These are my sisters words remembered that morning years later that was the beginning of my own journey towards enlightenment . It begins with truth … the telling of it and the hearing of it too .
” He stood watching me . I could feel his stare as obvious as a cheap , strong perfume . He already knew that I was broke and broken . My friends just recently had deserted me , my best friend , remember her , you dated her brother ? Anyway ,.. Um .. Martin kept skulking in that coffee shop I worked at . I’m sure he had heard gossip about that African doctor and me and I’m sure now that he preyed on that vulnerability and hurt of my loneliness . I felt so alone and clueless . Now , even glimpses of evil appall me , appall me like the sight of an egg splattered with its yolk broken and leaking … it turns my stomach but back then , in ignoring , it caused me awful trouble .”.
I sat still listening and decided not to ask questions and I knew from the intense look on her face , a face drenched in destiny and oddly radiant like the faces found in paintings of doomed and haloed saints , with wrinkles half hidden on her forehead by her long hair , that it was good to release this old pain inside of her .
” I first felt sad for him , for the loss of his mother at 14 and his dad’s desertion , his need to make money illegally to survive , sorry for the girl he was forced to marry who was pregnant and even sad for his catholic beliefs . I pitied the hatreds that lied to him and weakened him . I was so stupid to believe all his sad stories and remember the hook he used to gain my sympathy , it was , ” I have feelings too , just because I’m a big guy doesn’t mean I’m any differant from everyone else “. I chose to believe all his stories and for years after , even now sometimes , odd lies he told return in my mind like danger street signs along quiet country roads and I say to myself , ” Wow , that was a lie too “! But he had a power , and it was this and I’m embarrassed by it … I was madly in love with him , especially in a sexual way … I was sick , seriously sick “.
The way she slowly shook her head and the sadness in her eyes embarrassed me for her stupidity had made me so mad before . But some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you and it was there in the darkness of those eyes of hers . For awhile we just sat there each with our own separate thoughts … a silence so profound that the breeze on my ears from the open window was like a child’s sleepy whisper .
” It was his voice I first fell in love with , deep and melodious with confidence and strength and then the sweetness saved for only me , differant than how I heard him talk to others roughly and with dam nations . Was I so intrigued … paradoxes have always fascinated me … was that it “?
Where my sister saw intrigue , all I saw was danger and would have run fast in the opposite direction ! I noticed first that he pretended to be rich , showing off 100 dollar bills , wearing expensive designer watches ( always a different one ) and strutting his Tommy Bahamas shirts on his large frame like a show off . Why she was attracted to a big fat guy I will never understand ! She was so stupid and even believed that he stayed on the second floor alone of his ex-wife’s house out of a sense of duty . He first conned my niece , knowing if he got her approval the others would soon fall in line too , which really shocked me as she fell for it all too and she was so street wise and protective of her mom . He was slick like a greasy pan of Mexican sausage and I hated him ! He somehow sneaked his name on Tavishas only investment account from her dead husband and gambled it all away telling more and more lies . I remember the day she phoned me and said ,”things just don’t make sense to me anymore “.
And so finally , after a year when the nature of the universe revealed it’s tendency towards complexity , Tavisha began to face her fears like peeking from underneath a sheet covering her whole naked body until one night it was torn swiftly to show the evil that had been lurking and it clutched at her heart with talons of truth . A night of redemption , an unknown flower blooming in the dark night that opened wide her eyes to what she had not seen before . He was like a dark angel wandering the earth with the stink of sulphur like cancer in his breath . But he was just a man , an evil man of deceit and hate , cursed with the fact that he could no longer experience good . Always playing the victim he was corrupt and full of wickedness , he lied too well , he lied with every nerve and fiber and it scared her cutting thru her heart until the calm demeanor of her acknowledgement baffled his senses and his hatred was unleashed .
” Don’t ignore me”! walking toward her
” Leave me alone “! running upstairs, locking the door .
” You never let me finish my sentence you condescending B…. I said I’m not gonna hurt you ” yelling as the door is broken off its hinges by his strong , bulky stinking body .
” Leave me alone “! He grasps hard a hold of her kicking ankles and pulls her quick with a thud to the floor , picks her up again dropping her straight on her head and she knows she is injured badly . Reaching over and ripping off from the wall a screwed in metal clothes hook , he thrusts the sharp edge like a knife to her throat saying , ” you f….. B …. I’m not gonna hurt you , I’m gonna kill you “!
Tavisha freezes , her broken body slumps into complete quietness like a captured animal, her breathing still and almost non existent . She whispers a name , ” Jesus “. Suddenly he let’s go , walks out of the room , smokes a cigarette in the garage , comes back up , says he is sorry and she pretends to accept .
The following day , in a dark hole of worthlessness , she walks into the sea with all her clothes on … the sea where all of life begins . When a woman makes a baby she gives it water to grow in and just like the sea it has the same ratio of salt . From the beginning we took the ocean with us , our blood and sweat is salty and we cry oceans in our tears . ” And the earth was without form : and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep . And the spirit of God hovered upon the face of the waters . And God said let there be light : and there was light ” Exodus 1:2&3 . Floating above an undertoe , wondering if she will die drowning , she once again calls out “Jesus “. A radiance appears in the sky and in her eyes a vision , a vision of purity , a vision of gentle peace and a beautiful face parting the clouds and a voice ” I hold your hand , I am the I am ” . And like the sobbing at night in a distant village of wretchedly miserable poverty an understanding of “why” comes forth from Gods out stretched arms … no happiness exists without its woe , no wealth without its cost , no life without its full measure of sorrowing and death .
” Later he had me followed by his mobster friends who broke in leaving threatening messages until I finally left for Mexico after our parents died . I heard he moved back to the big city , sick with throat cancer and died a year later . I visited him once , grateful for how he pushed me hard into my true awareness of the Divine . I confronted him and offered forgiveness and asked for it too as I was not without fault … but he remained stoic with a paralyzed face, looking at me only sardonically with his bloodshot eyes . I touched him and walked away . Outside I sat awhile and gave myself completely to that golden , fate-filled moment and in gazing at the spring buds on the trees I felt the silent, secret , heartbreaking joy , God puts into everything that blooms and grows .
From my sister Tavishas diary :
” The truth is that there are no good men or bad men , it is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them . There are good deeds and bad deeds. Men are just men – it is what they do or refuse to do that links them to good and evil . The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone , the noblest man alive or the most wicked , has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life with-in the lotus folds of its passion . The truth is that we are all , everyone of us , every atom , every galaxy and every particle of matter in the universe , moving toward God “.
Note: portrait photos by Ellen Rogers photography